Full tank of gas and a ’69 Tempest: An hour of great mainstream country from the ’80s and ’90s

A.V. Club - 01-03


There’s a certain vintage of mainstream country music that still widely resonates: Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Emmylou Harris. There’s also a lot of country music that’s widely derided, particularly in the years that country music rapidly expanded beyond its Americana roots and began replacing steel guitars with pop hooks. Those were the years I listened to country music—roughly the mid-’80s through the late ’90s, which saw the emergence of crossover legends like Shania Twain and Faith Hill, as well as dozens of pop-country singers who didn’t have quite their staying power, like Collin Raye and Deana Carter (both of whom were successful, but didn’t go on to sell out Vegas in subsequent decades).